Pastor Azar estimates that about 100 families have emigrated to other countries while 20 families are now behind the separation wall, which makes coming to church completely unpredictable if not impossible.
“The Jerusalem congregation is divided into three parts: 55% of our members live around the Old City before the checkpoint; another 25% live between the checkpoint and the Wall; and the remaining 20% live outside the Wall. This fragments the congregation, alienates one from one another and makes it almost impossible to come together as a whole community.”
The wall – built largely on Palestinian land – isolates East Jerusalem from the rest of the West Bank and wreaks havoc on the fabric of Palestinian life. International law does not recognize Israel’s unilateral annexation of much of East Jerusalem, and thus it is considered occupied territory under that law. Nevertheless, with the building of the wall and the increasing difficulty in obtaining permits for travel to Jerusalem, the separation of East Jerusalem from the rest of the West Bank is now virtually complete.
Traditionally, East Jerusalem has contributed about 30-40% of the economy to Palestinian areas; any two-state solution that does not give Palestinians access to East Jerusalem (and vice versa) will not be a viable solution.